[Updated at 7:09 p.m. ET] An armed police officer is assigned to the school but he wasn't at the school at the time of the shooting because snowfall in the area prevented his arrival, authorities said.
[Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET] A mother of a student witness recalls the moment that her daughter called her after the shooting: "She was telling me, 'Mom, get here, there’s blood everywhere," the woman CNN affiliate KERO.
[Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET] Here's more quotes from Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood, from the news conference earlier this afternoon, about the teacher and the campus supervisor who apparently talked the suspect into dropping his weapon:
“When (the teacher) started a dialogue, the shotgun, he said, was pointed in several different directions. He is unsure how many rounds were fired … . He said as the dialogue started with him and the campus supervisor, who was just outside the room, the student was still armed with the shotgun. They, I think, probably distracted him in a conversation, allowing students to get out of the classroom and ultimately talking the student down.”
Youngblood added: "To stand there and face someone that has a shotgun - who has already discharged it and shot a student - speaks volumes for these two young men, and what they may have prevented. They could have just as easily tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't. They knew not to let him leave that classroom with that shotgun, and they took that responsibility on very serious, and we're very proud of the job they did."
The school district's superintendent told reporters that the school's staff had just reviewed lockdown procedures earlier Thursday morning.
[Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET] The news conference ended more than an hour ago, but we wanted to give you some longer quotes from officials about how a teacher and a "campus supervisor" - a campus monitor on the school's staff - talked to the suspect until, authorities say, the suspect put down the weapon.
After the suspect shot one student and missed another, "the teacher at that point was trying to get the students out of the classroom and engaged the shooter - who had numerous rounds of shotgun shells … in his pockets - engaged the suspect in conversation," Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood said.
“A campus supervisor showed up, was outside the classroom, and together they engaged in conversation with this young man, and at one point he put the shotgun down, and police officers were able to take him into custody,” Youngblood said.
Here's what Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting said about the teacher and the campus supervisor:
"We want to really commend the teacher and a campus supervisor for all they did to bring this to a very quick resolution before anybody else was harmed. ... They did a great job in protecting the kids, and we can't thank them enough for what they did today."
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes Taft, also praised the teacher.
"I first want to commend the teacher. I think he saved many lives today. His actions, his time, his ability of what he did (to) protect the students there," McCarthy said.
McCarthy also praised law enforcement for responding quickly. Youngblood said Taft police officers were at the school within 60 seconds of a 911 call.
Major League Baseball has announced it will begin random testing for human growth hormone during the 2013 regular season.
"This agreement addresses critical drug issues and symbolizes Major League Baseball’s continued vigilance against synthetic human growth hormone, testosterone and other performance-enhancing substances," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
The announcement of the testing comes one day after baseball writers balked at naming any new players to the Hall of Fame.
Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens were among those eligible, but their career achievements have been clouded by alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.FULL STORY
Vice President Joe Biden appears to be taking his boss's demand for a quick recommendation on gun violence seriously.
Biden said Thursday that he will give recommendations to President Barack Obama by Tuesday on how to reduce gun violence in the United States. Biden is heading a task force that is meeting with numerous groups this week, including some for and some against stricter gun controls.
Obama, following a shooting that killed 20 children and six women at a Connecticut elementary school in December, had set a January deadline for the recommendations. Read more about the task force here.
Authorities in Australia have arrested a man they say conspired with a convicted international arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death."
Richard Ammar Chichakli, a U.S. and Syrian citizen, was arrested Wednesday by Australian authorities at the request of the United States, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Thursday.
The DEA alleges Chichakli once conspired with convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to buy airplanes to illegally transport weapons to conflict zones.FULL STORY
[Updated at 12:14 p.m. ET] An Atlanta pastor who was picked to deliver the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration this month has withdrawn from the ceremony amid a controversy over a sermon he apparently preached on homosexuality in the 1990s.
The Rev. Louis Giglio sent a letter of withdrawal to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Criticism over the selection swirled after the liberal website Think Progress posted a sermon that it said Giglio gave in the mid-1990s, a speech the site called "vehemently anti-gay."FULL STORY
At least nine people were injured in two successive explosions in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, CNN affiliate Geo TV said Thursday. A Geo TV photojournalist is among the injured, Geo TV said.
Earlier in the day, 11 people were killed and 27 others were injured when a bomb planted in a vehicle near a security checkpoint in the center of Quetta exploded, police spokesman Wazir Khan Nasir said.FULL STORY
Wal-Mart's envoy to the White House's gun violence task force will meet with Attorney General Eric Holder, not the group's leader Vice President Joe Biden, an administration official said Thursday.
Biden is scheduled to meet with gun owners and gun rights groups Thursday, including the National Rifle Association. Later in the day he'll sit down with representatives of the entertainment and video game industries.
After initially declining an invitation to attend at meeting with the gun panel, Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that it would participate in a meeting with the group, which was assembled after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.FULL STORY
A deeper examination of the late NFL linebacker Junior Seau's brain suggests he had traumatic brain disease after all, the National Institutes of Health says.
An examination suggests Seau had the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the NIH said Thursday.
"On initial examination the brain looked normal but under the microscope, with the use of special staining techniques, abnormalities were found that are consistent with a form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy," the NIH said in a statement.
There was also a small part of his brain with "evidence of scarring that is consistent with a small, old, traumatic brain injury," the NIH said.
Seau's May 2012 death was classified as a suicide. In August, an autopsy showed no apparent signs of damage.FULL STORY
It apparently takes more than a few good men, according to the U.S. Marine Corps. It takes all kinds of people to support military families, including same-sex spouses of service members.
CNN published a story this week about a woman married to a female lieutenant colonel at Fort Bragg who believes she was rejected from an officers' spouse club because she's gay. Less than a day later, Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary advised Marine Corps legal staff such clubs conducting business on its bases must admit same-same spouses. If they do not, the clubs will be barred from meeting on any Marine Corps installation.
[Posted at 8:54 a.m. ET] You can now share your angst, joy and outrage in the comments section on our story that has the list of nominees.
[Posted at 8:25 a.m. ET] We are almost ready for one of my favorite times of the year: The annual throw-down over who got snubbed for an Oscar nomination (OK, fine, or the nominations themselves.)
Our colleagues over on the Entertainment side are geared up and ready to go for the announcement at 8:30 a.m. ET. You can watch the announcement, hosted by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone, on CNN.com/live. Personally, I'm hoping he shows up as his foul-mouthed alter ego "Ted" to make the announcements, but maybe that's because I haven't finished my first cup of coffee yet and I know it will amuse me.
Either way, we're all ready to give you all the movie excitement you can handle. You'll be able to find the full list of nominees, a gallery, a list of who they think should have gotten an award on CNN.com/showbiz.
And if you can wait for that, our team will be tweeting out the nominations on @CNNShowbiz. We encourage you to follow them and let know if you want to fight it out about how great "Lincoln" was or how sick you are of hearing about Anne Hathaway's performance in "Les Miserables." And go ahead, shout your love for "Argo" from the rooftops.
President Obama will be sworn in for a second term in office on Monday, January 21. Watch CNN.com Live for all your inauguration coverage.
Today's programming highlights...
8:38 am ET - Academy Award nominations announced - Will "Lincoln" be sworn in for a Best Picture nod? Is the Academy boffo for "Argo"? Could "Skyfall" surprise? Those questions and more will be answered when Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone reveal the nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards.
A blast in the city of Quetta in southwest Pakistan killed 11 people and injured 27 more Thursday, police said. Children were among the dead.
A bomb planted in a vehicle near a security checkpoint in the center of town caused the explosion, which wrecked a marketplace and destroyed eight security vehicles, police spokesman Wazir Khan Nasir said.FULL STORY
Israeli authorities said Thursday there had been an explosion in Tel Aviv near a bus and possibly inside a car. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN the incident appears to be the work of organized crime, not a terror attack.FULL STORY
A group of former service members who left the military because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy will get the full separation pay they were denied, according to a recent $2.4 million court settlement.
The settlement was announced this week by the American Civil Liberties Union who sued the U.S. government on behalf of about 181 troops who were honorably discharged for violating the pre-2011 military ban on service members being openly gay.FULL STORY
Health problems have stopped Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from coming to Caracas for an inauguration ceremony Thursday, but there still could be plenty of pomp and circumstance.
Several Latin American leaders have already arrived in Venezuela's capital for an event to honor the ailing Chavez, who is undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba and has not made a public appearance in a month.FULL STORY
Time is running short for a pack of killer whales trapped by ice near a small Canadian village on Hudson Bay, the town's mayor said Wednesday.
The 11 whales are confined in a space of about 30 feet by 30 feet, where they use an opening for a breathing hole, Inukjuak Mayor Petah Inukpuk said.FULL STORY